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Human Genome News Archive Edition

Human Genome News, September 1990; 2(3)

Joint Sequencing Working Group To Serve Agencies in Technology Awareness

The NIH-DOE Joint Sequencing Working Group met for the first time on May 10 in Herndon, Virginia. The Sequencing Working Group will report to the Joint DOE-NIH Subcommittee on the Human Genome about all aspects of sequencing so the agencies can make well-informed decisions and formulate programs to accomplish the goals of the genome project.

Discussion Topics

  1. Role of the Joint Sequencing Working Group.
    Sequencing programs are multidisciplinary, so this working group's objectives will necessarily overlap those of the mapping and informatics working groups. Because technology for mapping and sequencing is evolving so rapidly, the working groups and the agencies' staffs must inform the scientific community about changing technology in the field.
  2. Federal Sequencing Program Support.
    NIH currently funds about $1 million a year for sequencing and $1.5 million for developing sequencing technology. DOE spends about $5.7 million annually on sequencing technology development and is considering a program to sequence cDNAs in support of physical mapping activities.
  3. Current Large Sequencing Projects.
    Sequencing bacterial DNA has taken longer than expected because of problems in managing the large amount of data and in reading autoradiographs. Two efforts to sequence Escherichia coli have each resulted in nearly 100 kbp of finished sequence and are expected to generate data considerably faster in the future.

Automated sequencers can produce 7000 to 8000 bp of raw DNA sequence per day for each machine, with greater than 99% accuracy. Several laboratories have recently completed 100 kbp in several months and expect to complete l Mbp in the next year. Automation of sample preparation and data handling will cut labor costs, which account for the largest part of the sequencing expense.

Working Group Conclusions

  • New technology and innovative projects should be supported to meet the goal of reducing the cost of sequencing. Reasonable goals are to use large contiguous segments of DNA to sequence an aggregate of 10 Mbp and to lower the cost to $.50 or less per base pair. Careful attention must be paid to error rates, and the sequenced regions of DNA should be those of most interest to the scientific community.
  • Sequencing limited regions of genomic DNA should not be funded at this time. Even with NIH and DOE subsidizing the effort, the total cost of sequencing small regions of DNA would be very high, and current investment should go into technology development.
  • Sequencing at the mid range (<500 kbp) should be supported only when the region is extremely interesting biologically.
  • Data generated from sequencing should usually be available to the community within 3 to 6 months, and in no case should sequence data be held longer than a year. An aggressive policy is needed to ensure timely release of information.

For a list of members, see HGN 2(2): 4 (July 1990).

Next Sequencing Working Group Meeting: September 30 Hilton Head, SC


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Human Genome Program, U.S. Department of Energy, Human Genome News (v2n3).

Human Genome Project 1990–2003

The Human Genome Project (HGP) was an international 13-year effort, 1990 to 2003. Primary goals were to discover the complete set of human genes and make them accessible for further biological study, and determine the complete sequence of DNA bases in the human genome. See Timeline for more HGP history.

Human Genome News

Published from 1989 until 2002, this newsletter facilitated HGP communication, helped prevent duplication of research effort, and informed persons interested in genome research.